Many key tasks in the manufacture of products, including inspection, orientation, identification, and assembly, require the use of visual techniques. Human vision and response, however, can be slow and tend to be error-prone either due to boredom or fatigue. Replacing human inspection with machine vision can go far in automating factory operation, but implementers need to carefully match machine vision options with application requirements.
Nothing fabricated beats human vision for versatility, but other human weaknesses limit their productivity in a manufacturing environment. Boredom, distraction, fatigue, and sometimes even malice can degrade human performance in vision-related factory tasks such as inspection. Factory automation utilizing a machine vision system in such tasks, then, can bring many benefits. Machine vision systems can perform repetitive tasks faster and more accurately, with greater consistency over time than humans. They can reduce labor costs, increase production yields, and eliminate costly errors associated with incomplete or incorrect assembly. They can help automatically identify and correct manufacturing problems on-line by forming part of the factory control network. The net result is greater productivity and improved customer satisfaction through the consistent delivery of quality products.